Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s in our small nuclear family of three, I was fairly insulated from classic societal family values. That’s not to say we weren’t full of very solid values; they were, if anything, progressive. Mom was the income earner, my folks didn’t get married until I was eight, and when I was 10 my mother, after having me home from school sick with pneumonia, never sent me back to the 5th grade. This was after watching my personality morph from Lucy van Pelt into the (mostly) charming person I am today. She basically called the Berkeley School System and said “Fuck you guys!” There’s another story here, but you’ll have to wait for the book.
It was at about the age of 8 that I met my parternal grandparents and instantly understood the concept of matriarch and partriarch. My grandparents were the head of our family in every sense of the word. They were wonderful, stong, loving people. When Grandma passed at the age of 90 in 2003 I realized a torch had been passed to each of her daughters-in-law, my mother being one of them. They were now the matriarchs of their individual family lines. One thing that dementia does is change the relationship between family members. My mother and I, from my view/experience, no longer have a mother-daughter relationship. I am now the caregiver, the protector, the one in charge. With this diagnosis, suddenly, quietly, I have slipped into the honored role of matriarch of my family line. Mom will be my “queen mother.”